February 26, 2022

What is it, you say ya do here?

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Rebranding Life After Hockey

Smart Positioning, maybe you don’t need to figure everything out the hard way.

What is it, you say ya do here?

There are many reasons for starting a business.

Only one of them really matters.

Yes, we know you probably want to make money, be successful, and maybe even become famous. While that sounds great and all, it’s not really how these things work. These aren’t legitimate reasons to start a business. They are outcomes or byproducts of you fulfilling your purpose in the service of others. They certainly won't bring you longevity.

That’s right, you need to figure out “why” you want to pursue this,

and money, power, and fame aren’t going to cut it.

Simon Says, “Why?”

If you haven’t already seen Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk, or read his book ‘Start with Why’ here’s a quick run down of his talk, and support for the argument that finding “your why” should be priority number one.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

It’s all about communication and how you talk to people. If you tend to just rattle off the features and benefits of your product or service, that might make sense from a logical perspective, but it doesn’t do much to build relationships with people. It doesn’t draw them in, in a specific or interesting way. This is the way most businesses and companies choose to communicate, and it's superficial at best.

Brands that get it, however, communicate from the heart. Their communication is tied closely to why their company exists, and the values and beliefs they stand for. They are driven by purpose, and when people buy from them, it’s more about aligning with what that particular brand says about them, and less about how fancy the bells and whistles are.

“They buy from you because they believe what you believe”.

This really sheds some light on the reasons we as humans, do the things we do. Why do we care about certain causes? What compels us to buy things, but more importantly, what can we do to compel others to buy from us? How do we start winning some hearts and minds?

Richard Thaler goes into extensive detail, in his book ‘Misbehaving’, about why people don’t really what you think they're gonna do. People don’t really make the safe or predictable decisions that they really ought to. Instead they’re governed by emotion. We live in a time where most people with disposable income, aren’t struggling to have their basic needs met. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they’re the ones at the top of the pyramid, driven by their own need for self actualization. Brands that understand this, and can figure out how tap into it, are the ones that win.

It’s really about how your product or service can make your customer a better version of themselves. Maybe they think having the latest pair of Bauer Hockey Skates, won’t just make them a better player, but also the envy of everyone in their dressing room; and don't forget striking fear in the hearts of their opponents. Your skates, sticks, gloves, and so on, say something about you to others. It’s a huge part of your identity.

And if anyone at Bauer is reading this, I'm very much talking about myself here, and I could totally use a Hyperlite Creator Kit in my life.

Some brands stand out while others get lost in the mix. What kinds of decisions can we make that will influence how people feel about ours?

We can ask the Godfather

Marty Neumeier is kind of like the grandfather of branding. He’s written a series of incredible books on the topic, including ‘The Brand Gap’, ‘Zag’, ‘The Brand Flip’, and ‘Scramble’ (my personal fav). The Brand Gap explores the idea that a brand is:

“a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s a gut feeling because we’re all emotional and intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational”.

Your brand lives in someone else’s heart and mind, and that means you can’t control it. You can’t control how other people feel about you. You certainly can’t force them to feel something specific; but you can influence it.

Simon and Marty both reflect on company’s like Apple and TiVo (forgot about this one, didn’t you?), and why only one company and ultimately one product stood the test of time, despite the fact that both were strong products in their respective markets.

You may have guessed it was because Apple’s messaging spoke to people on a more human and emotional level. The “why” of what they do, versus what they do and how they do it.

TiVo was tops in its market for a short time when it was new and exciting, but it didn’t really sustain that success. It was simply marketed as a product that ‘records live tv’. People like doing this, but it was just a feature, and other platforms like local cable services and even online streaming services, added similar features over time, which made TiVo’s competitive advantage kind of irrelevant.

In contrast,

Apple told us: We could carry a thousand songs in our pocket.

This is an emotional outcome. We don’t even care how it works, but we want it. People love music, and they love movies. Apple connected with people in the same way music and movies connect with people. TiVo tried to connect with people in the traditional way of talking specs and details. Like something you’d expect from a 1960’s used car dealership. Even in reading this, you probably have a gut feeling of your own when it comes to these two products. Does one resonate more strongly with you than the other? If so, I promise you this is not by accident.

People tend to feel one way or another about a brand - good or bad - but either way, they have spent enough time engaging with it to have evoked some measure of emotion. It’s important for brands to be a little polarizing. I think it was a Seth Godin quote, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong:

“If you try to be everything to everyone one, you’ll end up being nothing to no one. It’s better to try to be something specific to someone specific”.

Sure, this will without a doubt turn some people off, but in order to build a community around your brand, you’ll need to make peace with that.

Gut Check Time

It’s gut check time, are all your lines are firing?

While we can’t really control how someone feels about our brand, we can certainly try and influence them. Your brand is a unique way to show your audience who you are, and welcome them into your story. You can do this in such a way that believing in what you do, is akin to believing in themselves. Their initial gut reaction is what motivates them to click that buy button. Our rational side usually decides to chime in after the fact, to justify our purchase with all the logical reasons.

Your brain can be kind of a jerk

Without going to far down the rabbit hole that is behavioural economics, the big idea is that our brains in most cases, are wired to override logic. This is all the inner part of our brain’s doing. Our limbic system makes up the part of our brain that is primarily responsible for our emotional responses, our behaviours, and even our decision making. It’s where our fight or flight response stands ready. If you have ever felt like you needed the latest iPhone, chances are you didn’t really. Apple spoke to you in just the right way and that triggered the primal part of your brain that made you justify opening up your wallet. It was this part of the your brain that processed the vibe that Apple was sending your way, and that's what made you feel the way you did.

When brands speak directly to our emotions, we feel more connected with a particular product or service. The technical side of things becomes irrelevant. Not that the more logical side doesn’t come into play at all, but it is that first spark of emotion that made us fall in love in the first place.

Finding “your why” is the first step in being able to communicate with people on this level. It's the first step in building a human and empathetic brand that really connects with the people it's meant to.

Lost that Lovin’ Feeling?

Sometimes we can lose sight of our why, and that’s ok. It’s something that will evolve over time as we grow. It never hurts to revisit your why or your purpose from time to time, to make sure it’s still in alignment with who you are and those you serve. We should all be so lucky as to hang onto this feeling for as long as we can. If it seems like you may have lost sight of it, that’s ok, it’s only temporary. It’s your true north, and you’ll always be able to find it again eventually. It may just take a little time and reflection.